Tim Homfray gives the low-don on the concert at London’s Wigmore Hall on 7 November 2019
The Takács Quartet is good at Haydn. Here the four musicians proved it again, in a performance of his ‘Bird’ Quartet in C major op.33 no.3 which was full of personality, marked by the clipped playing of the inner parts in the first movement. They were snappy again in the trio of the Scherzo, a jolly staccato conversation between the violins. The Adagio ma non troppo flowed easily through its warm key changes, mysterious and beguiling; and the final Rondo was fleet and witty – who could hear it and not smile?
In the first movement of Bartók’s Second String Quartet, many facets had life and detail brought out at once vividly and without undue emphasis, woven together into a gripping narrative. The disparate elements of the second-movement Allegro molto capriccioso were similarly bound into a coherent whole, vehement and exciting, and there was more story in the halting uncertainties of the final Lento. This was a persuasive performance, enough so for someone I overheard afterwards to say how much she had enjoyed it despite not liking Bartók.
In the opening movements of Mendelssohn’s A minor Quartet op.13, the dotted rhythms were too often smoothed out; surely the agitated rhythms are a vital part. But there was humour in the Intermezzo, which brought laughter from the audience.